This is a module in which players seek a favor or information from a Fae lord (or lady). They must attend a High Tea and figure out the nuances of fae etiquette. This is a basic, skeletal writeup which should be easy to flesh out and adapt for your game. If you don’t like reading module writeups, stop here!
Rumor has it some nobles from Faerie are having High Tea this weekend. Everyone knows that the fae are a strange ffolke who are as likely to give you a gift as to curse you. They have a strange code of etiquette which is unfamiliar to Tyrrans. If the players want the fae’s boon, they will have to play by the fae’s rules at High Tea. Because High Tea involves social challenges, this module favors charismatic people with a quick tongue. You will do best on this module if you bring some good stories to tell.
How to use this module – Adapt this adventure to fit into your existing story lines. The fae’s favor could aid players in achieving any number of goals. Take a look at the possible rewards, below, and come up with some which are specific to your game’s plot.
This module should take from 20-30 minutes to run from start to end. You are encouraged to run it multiple times, allowing everybody in the game to go at least once. You can only go a second time after everyone has already gone once.
Rumors – Some fae occasionally disguise themselves as travelers and wander through town. Many look like humans or Elves, but they have a green mark somewhere on their skin. Each traveler knows a point of etiquette for this weekend’s High Tea. They might share this information with a good conversation partner. Some other rumors:
- Mortals who eat food or drink beverages from the world of Faerie are afflicted in strange, unpredictable ways.
- In some places, the realm of Faerie touches Tyrra. If you know these secret trails and routes, you might be able to find your way into Faerie.
- there is a Clauricon named McKean who knows the way to the High Tea.
- Unseelie Fae and Seelie Fae have exact opposite codes of etiquette
The Fae Lord – You’ll come up with your own fae lord, but as an example, this module will describe Lord Jamieson, a sidhe prince. Lord Jamieson looks like an elf with gold glitter on his skin. Like most sidhe adults, he is a proficient wizard of both schools of magic and can cast spells without incantations. He is prone to mood swings and can be quite rude to people he doesn’t like. He adores fae etiquette, and abhors those who can’t keep up with it. During this adventure, he will host the High Tea. During the party, he’ll question each guest, keeping them on their toes by asking pointed questions.
- Lord Jamieson’s sense of humor: he likes hearing stories in which someone triumphs through laziness
- Lord Jamieson’s fascination: he likes hearing stories about how someone tricks someone else
- Lord Jamieson’s hot button: he is not currently in favor within his house, and hates talking about his family. If anyone mentions family in any way, that person will earn bad favor.
Like many Fae Lords, Lord Jamieson has a particular curse he bestows upon those that displease him. If anyone persists in pushing his hot button, he will bestow his Greater Curse, the curse of the sandman. Jamieson was given this gift by a friend from the Dreaming. Whenever the victim of this curse loses consciousness, his eyes will be filled with dream sand. Upon awakening, he must rub his eyes for three seconds to remove the sand before he can stand up or do anything. This will last for a year and a day, or until Jamieson removes it.
Jameison is attended by his court stooge, Grimp. Grimp is a dry and humorless man who stoically endures any and all of Jamieson’s hilarious insults. Grimp is in charge of “refilling” drinks (sometimes poisoning them), distributing favor handkerchiefs, and asking people to leave.
The Hook – The hook is a bawdy Clauricon named McKean. A Clauricon is like a leprechaun, but instead of a pot of gold, he has a keg of mead. He is constantly drunk, and offers intoxicants (as well as various other potions and alchemical effects) to those who hang around him. If you give him a four-leaf’d clover, he’ll take you to meet the Fae lord. If there are no four leaf clovers on your campsite, he’ll settle for a mug of beverage (which he can turn into wine).
The journey to the High Tea involves following a specific series of confused loops through the woods. If you’re being guided by a fae, he will be able to find the path which leads to a secret glade in Faerie. Without McKean, you’ll never find it.
At the beginning of the journey, McKean whispers to Sarr (or any other color blind race) that as the group approaches Faerie, they will begin to see the world in color. As they leave faerie, the world will return to shades of gray.
McKean is unreliable and leads the players into ambushes and dangerous spots. They might meet other travelers or hostile creatures on the way to or from faerie. Finding faerie can be challenging! You might require players to pass a physical challenge or tracking puzzle. After a sufficient loop, the players will be led to the clearing where Jamieson, Grimp, and friends are having tea.
Set Up – In a clearing in the woods there is a large table set up for tea. Bring tea cups or wine glasses for each place at the table, some snacks, and a few pitchers of iced tea, lemonade, or other local beverage of choice. This should be a comfortable place to hang out. It is a safe area to eat – monsters will avoid this area, and combat is forbidden by etiquette while within. A well-disguised boombox playing some Celtic music is appropriate. Players will not be able to access this zone unless they were guided here by McKean.
All tea cups or wine glasses have potion tags underneath them. During the module, Grimp assigns random potion tags from a pile each time a glass is refilled. In this stack are good and bad effects – about 1/3rd of them should be dangerous things like damage, nausea, addictive euphoria, damage or sleeping poisons. The rest should be good or neutral things like protective spells, healing, hallucinoid poison, intoxicants, and “This potion restores the use of one skill of your choice. You may only benefit from this effect once per day.” During the meal, guests will have the opportunity to switch cups with each other.
Please Sit Down – Lord Jamieson beckons everyone to sit down at the table. Once everyone is seated, Grimp welcomes everyone and introduces their host. As Grimp pours drinks, Jamieson explains the High Tea to some minimal extent:
- In order to remain in my company, you must abide by the codes of seelie etiquette. Unfortunately, it is improper to list the rules at length, so you’ll just have to make due and figure them out.
- If you are excused from the party, I expect you to leave politely and quietly. Upon leaving this clearing, you will find yourself back in the mortal realm. If you leave politely and quietly, I will accept you as a guest next time you come so long as you bring a gift to redeem yourself. If I hold you in my contempt, no party will find this glade as long as you are in their company.
- The tea is usually 15 or 20 minutes long. Everyone who holds my interest until the end of the party will earn some of my favor. There are some boons I am happy to offer to good guests, but we will discuss those later.
- The drinks may taste strange to you mortals. They are of fae origin, and some of it may not agree with your digestive system. You will notice notes under your drinks. What is described on the note will happen to you each time you drink from your cup. (the effect is not “used up” after the first sip)
The Code of Etiquette – Players will observe certain customs while trying to earn favor, represented by handkerchiefs. (“the hankie code”) The basic rules are outlined below, but Jamieson will add rules and selectively observe them as he desires. During the tea, he or Grimp may reference some of the rules written below so as to suggest different courses of action.
The players will have to learn the code the hard way. Each time Jamieson or Grimp notices an infraction, they will reprimand the offending player while citing the rule that was broken. When a rule is broken, Grimp will drop a red handkerchief in front of the player, representing bad favor. If someone breaks etiquette and already has a red handkerchief in front of them, they will be asked to leave immediately.
Things that can earn bad favor:
- For men, drinking with the right hand. For women, drinking with the left hand.
- Sore Topic: bringing up family in any way
- not telling a story if asked to elaborate on one
- if you leave your chair for any reason, you are automatically asked to leave.
- casting spells while seated at the table
- touching weapons or gas globes while seated at the table
- Asking the host a question without having good favor (represented by a blue handkerchief)
- contradicting yourself within a story without providing a hilarious or entertaining explanation
- complaining about your drink, even if it is poisoning you
- falling asleep and/or vomiting at the table
- giving the host an answer which displeases him in any way
If players do something that Jamieson approves of, a blue handkerchief will be awarded. He occasionally references these things, giving players clues for how they could act to earn his good favor. If the player earns more good favor while he already has a blue handkerchief in front of him, Grimp might award an additional handkerchief, or in extremely favorable circumstances, a boon card.
Things that can earn good favor:
- Answering questions in a highly satisfactory way. This includes answers which make others laugh, gasp, or react emotionally in some way.
- Giving Jamieson an original gift. He prefers art or alcohol. He expects that most gifts must be accompanied by a story!
- Performing an act of treachery, such as poisoning a friend on purpose
- disclosing secrets, especially dangerous ones. Inconsequential trivia does not count.
- acts of “high drama”, like proposing marriage, or giving a monologue and then committing suicide.
- particularly good jokes
- being able to recite a limerick or longer poem from heart
Throughout the meal, Jamieson may make suggestions for what people can do to “spend” their blue handkerchiefs. “My good friend,” he might say while pointing at the blue hankie, “If someone else’s drink looks tasty to you, you need merely to ask, and I will permit you to swap cups with them.”
Things you can spend favor on:
- ask permission to remove bad favor from someone else (cannot be used to rid yourself of yours)
- ask permission to be excused from the table
- ask permission to cast a spell at someone else
- ask an important question or lesser favor of the host
- swap cups with someone else
- suggest a new rule of etiquette or modification to the current rules. If Jamieson likes it, it will be put to a vote. If it gets at least half the votes, it becomes a new rule and the suggester is awarded a boon card.
Everyone must drink when:
- someone dies, whether in a story or at the table
- someone gets married, whether in a story or at the table (Jamieson is glad to perform the handfasting!)
- someone celebrates something, whether in a story or at the table
- numerous other rules relating to local in-jokes and Jamieson’s whim
Possible conversation points for Jamieson:
- I like hearing funny stories, particularly ones where the hero triumphs through laziness. Please entreat me to such a tale.
- Are you the kind of person who can tell good from evil? I’m very confused about these two things. Can you tell me which is which?
- Your cup is running low – would you like some more? Of course you would… how does this drink taste to your mortal tongue?
- Have you ever been to the realm of Faerie before? Tell me your impression of my homeland… — if the player says good things, it earns good favor. If bad things, bad favor.
- Has anyone at this table ever given or been given a truly spectacular gift? Please don’t bore me with talk of weapons.
- I would like to hear about how you Tyrrans party. Tell me about a great celebration you’ve attended.
- In Faerie, we are curious about how you mortals govern yourself. How do you think people should be governed?
- What is the best kind of treasure?
- What do you do when you are not on adventures?
- Why do you pursue your current path?
- I have an enemy named Marestion. He is a firbolg, an evil people who are wretched in every conceivable way. Like the sidhe, they cast magics of both schools without need of incantation. What would you do if you met such a creature?
- If someone seems uncomfortable about something, Jamieson will ask them to elaborate on it.
At the end of the party…
After fifteen minutes or so, Jamieson will begin to get tired or bored and call the party to a close. At this point, everyone is thanked and excused. Anyone who has good favor will earn a boon card, and a few coins or a component as a parting gift. Jamieson explains the different things you might want to do with boon cards: If you want to use boon cards, you must earn good favor and then present them during a High Tea. It is not likely that an individual player, working alone, will accumulate enough boon cards to receive a good boon – but if players pool resources they can pursue common goals.
Boon cards can be spent for these things:
- [5 cards] The host will reconsider someone he holds in contempt
- [5 cards] The host will grant a beneficial enchantment that will last for the remainder of the event
- [5 cards] The host will give you a gift bag which contains an assortment of random treasure. These vary in value.
- [10 cards] The host will send a group of monsters against a group or individual
- [10 cards] The host will reveal a secret or grant a favor relevant to an existing plotline
- [10 cards] the host will remove a curse. (costs 15 in the unseelie court)
- [10 cards] (if host is seelie) The host will give sanctuary to someone in danger
- [10 cards] (if host is unseelie) The host will release a captive held in his dungeon
- [15 cards] The host will speak to another NPC on the player’s behalf
- [15 cards] The host will arrange for a gate, rift, or planar bridge to be opened
- [15 cards] The host will bestow a magic item or reveal its location. This item has a Lore card or other history relating to its creation in the realm of Faerie
Other Boons – If players have a favor they’d like to ask, and it can be granted with a small usage of NPC resources, grant it! Be flexible and willing to let the players take their personal story in their own direction. If they want something relating to plot or their character background, a Fae Lord may be able to use his resources to help.
Mixing it up – Optional bonus round! If players seem to be enjoying this type of interaction, you can mix it up by switching in a different host who has slightly different rules and can grant different boons. For example, Jamieson’s enemy is a firbolg called Marestion. Firbolgs are bad tempered unseelie fae who are opposite the fair Sidhe in every way. In an unseelie court, the rules are exactly the opposite as the seelie court. For example, women are supposed to drink with the left hand, men the right hand (instead of the other way around). After sunset, Jamieson strikes camp and Marestion’s court takes the table.
Kill the Lord? During the weekend, alchemists might have access to a recipe for poison which can slay a Fae Lord. This can potentially end the module series, so the poison shouldn’t be available until late in the event.